Edmonton’s LRT now extends to South Campus

This morning I went down to Health Sciences/Jubilee LRT Station for the grand opening of Edmonton’s two newest LRT stations – McKernan/Belgravia (114th Street and 76th Avenue) and South Campus (116th Street and 65th Avenue). Construction of the 2.3km extension south from Health Sciences began in 2005. Regular transit service begins tomorrow.

South Campus LRT Grand OpeningSouth Campus LRT Grand Opening

I received the media advisory about the event earlier this week, and had to read it twice:

To ride the ceremonial train, media MUST park in the designated parking lot at South Campus. From there, media and dignitaries will board an ETS shuttle at 9:15 a.m. which will travel to the Health Sciences Station where the LRT will depart as part of the official opening ceremonies.

This is a transit event, yet the media must drive and park? They could have at least encouraged everyone to take the bus or train! I understand the media sometimes carry a lot of equipment, but seriously. Sharon and I took the train to Health Sciences and met the group there. I was happy to see that ETS seemed to consider bloggers and other citizen journalists part of the media, though I suppose it would have been logistically impossible to turn anyone away (the train was packed).

In any case, we got to ride the first public LRT train on the new south extension. We stopped for a short ceremony at McKernan/Belgravia, where a group of residents had gathered to welcome the arrival of the first train. The total trip from Health Sciences was about two minutes:

Next of course, was the trip to South Campus. I sat across from Mayor Mandel, who happily chatted with everyone around him. At one point he said of the extension: “This is great, but it’s history now. We need to keep going.” He later reiterated this in his official remarks. Fortunately, construction of the track to Century Park (formerly Heritage) is well underway (and should open in April 2010). The trip from McKernan/Belgravia to South Campus was also about two minutes:

The South Campus LRT station also had a large group of people to welcome the train, and played host to the ETS Community Fair after the opening ceremony. Mayor Mandel, Minister of Labour Rona Ambrose, Minister of Aboriginal Relations Gene Zwozdesky, and University of Alberta VP Facilities and Operations Don Hickey all said a few words and participated in the unveiling of the commemorative plaque.

South Campus LRT Grand Opening

I was struck by how empty the area looks – there’s not much around the station right now. It will become a major transit hub however, as ETS is re-routing bus service to feed into the LRT system. You can read about all the transit service changes here.

South Campus LRT Grand OpeningETS Community Fair

The opening of these two stations is a great thing for Edmonton. I look forward to many more LRT station launches in the hopefully not-too-distant future. You can see more photos of the event here. The official news release is here.

14 thoughts on “Edmonton’s LRT now extends to South Campus

  1. I would just point out that the Mayor’s comments you don’t quote from the second clip are much more interesting than those that you do. I love that we have a mayor who recognizes the need for increased density and a drastic change in the urban landscape.

    Also, I wonder how adminstrators, staff and students at the Alberta School for the Deaf feel about his comments “that [they] need to find a better location for the Alberta School for the Deaf.” That’s been a controversial issue, and last I heard they (and the U of A) were telling folks there are no plans for them to move. IMO, I think it would be ideal if they could move to a location that has the space they require and access to transit. The areas around transit centres should be developed into high-density residential and commercial nodes.

  2. I agree with you on the density issue, and I also like that Mayor Mandel recognizes the need to increase it. I also like that he’s not afraid to speak his mind on the train 🙂

  3. Concerning the photo of the politicians. I was just a bit disapointed and embarrassed to not see my elected MP Linda Duncan up with the rest of the civic, provincial and federal politicians. Shameful omission by those in charge. She is the MP for riding the new stations are in.
    Just Another Tax Payer
    Jamie philp

  4. Jamie, I rode the train part of the way a few feet from Linda Duncan. There were a lot of MP’s, City Councillors, and other big names at the opening… but only a select few people were on stage. They were there and they definitely got around to talk to the people at the celebrations.

  5. Great post, Mack. These stations are a long time coming for Edmonton, and an important step in the future of public transit.

    On the Linda Duncan comment by Jamie: from the composition of the platform group in the picture, it appears that those elected officials are representing the various levels of government that contributed funding to the LRT expansion (Rona Ambrose – Federal Government; Gene Zwozdesky – Provincial Gov; Stephen Mandel – City of Edmonton).


  6. Hey Mack,

    Those of us who walked to McKernan/Belgravia and who live in the neighbourhood and plan to use the new LRT were told that we were not allowed to stay on the platform – we had to stand on the multi-use trail out of the way of the “dignitaries.” I can tell you that several local residents were NOT happy about this. The weather was miserable, local residents had put up with noise, dirt, disruptions and traffic for years and STILL came out to celebrate but were moved out of the way. The tone was all wrong!

    Hearing that the media was supposed to “drive and park” at South Campus is also disappointing. We were so excited to take Andy (our 3 1/2 year old son) to watch the opening ceremonies – it is his LRT and after listening to the interview with the woman (who was celebrated at the opening – Marion?) on CBC radio, I started thinking about how this new station in our neighbourhood would change Andy’s life – his ways to get around to school, friends’ homes, city events, etc. I was thinking that he would be able to be on CBC in 80 years and talk about the LRT opening and how the city has changed just like that delightful woman from McKernan did.

    So we bundled up and went off to celebrate with him. Too bad, he couldn’t get close enough to actually see the train arriving and that we weren’t actually welcome at the station – but could stay downstairs in the underpass or far away from the dignitaries.

    We were lucky enough to find a spot on the train to South Campus – but were told to move to the rear of the train so as not to be near the dignitaries – not so great PR all around.

    Just a simple change in tone – “Thank you so much for coming to the McKernan/Belgravia opening. We are so glad the local community has come out to celebrate. We would like you to gather HERE and HERE to welcome the train. There will be a lot of cameras and people getting on and off and we don’t want anyone to get hurt.” AND THEN “The first few cars are full of people and the media but there is still a lot of room for you to travel to South Campus at the end of the train. Once again, thank you so much for joining in the celebration.”

    We sat with a man who lives half a block away and has lived in Belgravia for his whole life. He was also disappointed with the tone but still excited to be on the train and being part of the whole experience – as we were.

    There weren’t that many of us so it was a shame that there couldn’t have been a different tone set for those that came out to celebrate. I understand the need for the dignitaries to be on the first train but I think there could have been a better approach with those that came to celebrate.

    We did take a shuttle bus back to McKernan School and there were community people working in the school gym so that the children could play with balls and celebrate. It was advertised as being child-friendly and there were lots of other families with young children enjoying the popcorn, cupcakes, and music in the underpass at the McKernan/Belgravia Station as well as the gym.

    Anyway, enough of my rant.

  7. Jenn – thanks so much for your comment! I think its important for ETS to learn from this experience, so that they get it right in the future.

    I think a simple change in tone would have been good, well said. I also think they should have been a bit more organized. No one on the platform really knew what was going on or where to go, there was a lot of confusion all morning. It’s amazing that everyone made it to South Campus together!

    Glad you got to celebrate a little!

  8. Thanks for posting this. I rode it today with my children adn took some 180 degree photos that I posted here:
    I can’t get over how the tunnell at Belgravie/McKernan is basically a call out to all graffiti artists in the city to come chowcase their work. Let’s hope it’s at least art and not just tagging.


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